The Manor Theatre opened in 1947 as an element of one of Charlotte's first automobile-oriented shopping centers on Providence Road. The tradition of grand movie palaces with glittering marquees located in the center of downtown was being eroded across the nation as Americans moved out into the suburbs and television captured their audiences. To adjust, many theaters moved to the suburbs to find their patrons, and built smaller screens located next to other stores with ample parking. The Manor complex was one of the first of its kind and was situated in Eastover, Charlotte's elite "automobile suburb." The site was originally occupied by a prominent example of the kind of grand mansions that once lined this part of Providence Road, which was moved and replaced with Green Gables Restaurant before the single-screen Manor was built there.
Today the Manor survives as the oldest continuously operated theater in the city that still shows movies. The entire shopping center looks almost exactly as it did in the 1940s, although visitors expecting the famous old Southern lunch-counter food at the Park Place Pharmacy and Soda Shop will now be greeted by Thai restaurant, Deejai (and previously Salute Ristorante as shown above), instead. The Manor survived the fate of so many old theaters in Charlotte by becoming the city's central location for independent, foreign, and art-house cinema. The theater was twinned in the mid-1980s, and from 1988 to 2005 was home to the Charlotte Film Society and its annual film festivals. Today it is operated by Regal Cinemas, and it still shows independent films. It has refused to go the way of the modern theater, becoming one of the only two movie houses in the city that have not remodeled and converted to stadium seating.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass